Growing plants from seeds with young children

This is a fun activity that takes concentration and teaches patience as we wait for the seeds to arrive up out of the earth. While we wait we learn about the life cycle of a plant: what does the plant need to grow and thrive?
Growing plants from seeds for Pre K children

1. Planting in the Garden: Dig the earth where you will plant the seeds into furrows or individual seed holes.
Planting in Pots: turn the earth in the pot and dig a hole.
2. Each child holds a few seeds in their hand and is shown where the seed should go and they put it in. (see picture above)
3. When all the seeds are planted work together to push the soil back over the seeds.

"Sam, at age 4, is already pretty good at handling the smaller seeds (carrots, onions, etc.) but Avery is just on her first planting year to be involved so she just helped with the bigger bean seeds.
Beans are, in my opinion, some of the best plants to grow with young kids. The seeds are big and easy to handle. The seeds sprout fairly quickly so that they don't have to be patient for too long. The beans are easy to pick off and a great immediate snack in the yard. My girls both loved helping to pick the beans last year and I know this year they will get just as into the process." Abbie at Greening Sam and Avery

Growing from Seeds
PDF from Yates and Junior Landcare

Looking for a helpful book about gardening with children?

Gardening with Children (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet) from Amazon


Feed the birds


Feeding the birds in the city
Everywhere I go lately I see families feeding the birds. I guess I do spend a lot of time at parks, most recently, yesterday, at Sydney's Centennial Park where we fed a huge flock of floating geese that then came ashore and fed on the grass as they honked along. It was a feast for the senses: the sun on our backs and wind in our hair, the noise of the splashing, sometimes bickering birds and the interesting textures of the feathers and beaks and orange webbed feet.
Feeding the birds is a simple, cheap and time honored experience that can be enjoyed by all ages. Simple as it can be done wherever you can find birds. Cheap because you use old stale bread that you would probably have otherwise thrown away and time honored as I remember feeding the birds with my grandfather and he use to do it with his.
For older prechoolers I really liked the 'Birds of Sydney' leaflet at the Centennial Park Kiosk as they can talk about and point out which birds they have seen on their trip home.

Come feed the little birds, show them you care
And you'll be glad if you do.
Their young ones are hungry,
Their nests are so bare;
All it takes is tuppence from you."
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.
"Feed the birds," that's what she cries,
While overhead, her birds fill the skies.


Create a fragrant garden

This week we have been digging in the dirt and making our own beautiful fragrant garden.
This is a wonderful combination of messy play and creating something lasting and beautiful that can be appreciated by all.
First we started with an outing to the plant nursery. We rang ahead of time to ask which was their quietest day. We have a lovely local shady nursery with a interesting winding path and large red fish in a pond. We purchased:
  • lemon verbena
  • geraniums: lemon, rose, lime, peppermint
  • mints: spearmint, peppermint
  • bergamont
  • pennyroyal
  • rosemary
  • lavender
 Most of these plants were in the herb section.
We had great fun digging and transferring the plants and smelling the leaves of the geranium plants. Scented geraniums are grown mainly for their foliage because of the wonderful scents they have when their leaves are rubbed.  They work well in containers and small spaces, and can be grown successfully either indoors or out.
The best fun we had though, and ongoing, was watering the plants when they were all happily planted in their beds.

“It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.”
― Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

RESOURCES: Herb Gardening Guide from includes guides on growing, basil, parsley, sage, dill, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and frech tarragon.

Mud play

public domain image mud play
Are you lucky enough to have a mud patch in your garden, preschool or child care centre?

Did you know that playing in the mud can make you happy, healthy, smart and creative? Exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs, a new study suggests. Find out more good news about his fun activity: 10 reasons why we should let children play in the mud at Let the Children Play

Creating a Mud Patch at early childhood Ireland
Make a Mud Kitchen for Mud Day at Jan White Natural Play

3 Preschool science projects exploring dirt and mud

Even if you don't have room for a patch you can provide mud play in smaller ways suggested here:

Mud wedding cakes at posie blogs

preschooler play
Contain it at Chasing Cheerios

preschool mud creations
Make mud creations at Via Joy

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Art and the outdoors: what a great combination.
Getting children curious about the natural world and being outdoors, even if they aren't a sporty type of person, is what this activity is all about.

Materials: Thin paper, crayons and pencils.
Children to place paper over objects and rub with crayons and pencils.

Try tree trunks, acorns, rocks, fences, bricks, anything with texture. Discover what works as a textural surface and what does not work, what is nature and what is man made. Talk about what are man made objects.

PHOTO thanks to
LINKED AT: Outdoor Play Link Up
Garden Journal


Looking for insects


One day we went looking for insects with lots of large magnifying glasses. We found lots of ants, a giant dead cockroach, a dragonfly, an empty spiderweb and some buzzing flys. One boy said he was allergic to mosquitoes. We left the insects where we found them.

This activity is so simple as all you need to take with you outdoors is a magnifying glass and you can have an interesting half hour or more for all kinds of kids: artists, scientists, nature lovers, explorers...
I have found that the best magnifying glass for young children, has a safe large plastic lense, makes a wonderful gift and can be purchased here.

Later we sang about the bees in the beehive and shoo fly and incy wincy spider and we read the Eric Carle book about the spider where you can feel the web on the page.

Read more dragonfly ideas can be found at 52 days to explore.

science for preschoolers

Outdoor Play Link Up
Garden Journal

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Sand play

There is nothing like wet sand on a hot sunny day. It is a wonderful open ended activity that needs nothing more than sand and hands.
Developmental facts about sand play:
It is sensory and encourages exploration and imagination and social skills if done in a group of two or more.
It developments muscle strength in hands and arms and in the upper body.
Measuring and pouring and constructing help develop maths and science concepts such as full and empty, big and small.
It develops language skills when sharing, explaining and telling stories of what is happening. Read more:

Sand Play extras

Natural materials: stones, shells, pine cones, leaves, flowers, large smooth rocks,

Kitchen equipment: RECYCLE: drink bottles, spatulas, rolling pins, funnels, sieves, colanders, measuring spoons and cups, scoops, wooden spoons, plastic spoons, plastic containers, egg cartons, scales, plastic mixing bowls, jugs, plastic bowls and dishes, potato masher, plastic cookie cutters, pots and pans.

Sand Toys: sand wheel, bucket, spade, digger, sand combs or wide toothed combs

- blocks and block people
- shakers
- plastic animals
- play kitchen
- magnifiers
- vehicles including trucks
- train tunnels
- trees 
- people
- tea set

Household items:
- pegs
- pieces of material
- straws
- gardening tools and gloves
- tubes and cylinders
- child size table and chairs 

Rules for the sandpit:
Don't throw sand
Don't eat sand

Sandpit cleanliness:
Sun is a great sanitiser.
Cover sandpit when it is not in use or when you leave the play area.

Books to read to pre-schoolers about sand:

Jump Into Science: Sand for 4 to 8 year olds
The Seashore Book for 4 to 8 year olds
Miranda's Beach Day for ages 3 to 8

Recommended toys:
Green Toys Sand Play Set is made from recycled plastic milk containers that save energy, reduce landfill waste and lower greenhouse gas emissions, all in the name of good green fun.


Nature Table


Creating a nature table in your home or centre is a wonderful way to get children and parents interested in the big wide world outdoors. It is an excellent activity for all ages, from the very young and also those in wheelchairs and other children who do not consider themselves sporty or active.

It gives a focus to the days activity: Today we are collecting things, at the park, to place on our new nature table.

When we had a nature table,at one of the centres I worked with, we found that parents were taking their children for walks or planning more visits to the national parks and creeks and beaches and they were as excited as the children when they brought in an abandoned bird's nest or some ancient coral that had washed up on the shore. When children discover these natural treasures they feel more connected to something larger and wondrous.

Linked up at The Weekly Kids Co-op


Gardening with Children

Gardening with Children book review

The gorgeous illustrations on every page of this book make learning about nature simple and fun. While children do fun indoor and outdoor plant and garden activities, they will glean important lessons about natural cycles and processes. Bravo to Brooklyn Botanic Garden for publishing this great guide!  Nico

Brooklyn Botanic Garden—home of the oldest continuously operating children’s garden in North America— has created this handbook that helps parents, teachers, and community gardeners introduce kids to the pleasures of gardening. In addition to growing common plants from seed, children will become more aware of nature’s cycles and earth's ecology, and enjoy a variety of fun projects.

Linked up at I Must Confess

Grow some tomatoes

Kids love to dig in the dirt so you can involve them in planting veges and herbs from an early age. Cherry tomatoes are a good plant to start with as they are quick growing, visible and can be eaten straight from the bush. If you don't have a large garden they can be grown in a pot on the verandah.
All tomatoes are great growing, in Australia, right now as they are so expensive in the shops.
Kids can help prepare the soil, dig small holes, plant the seedlings or seeds, and water the garden. Later they can mulch around the plants.*  It's the waiting that's the hard part, but we all need to learn patience, right?
It's also a great way to get them interested in eating salads and learning what their favourite tomato sauce is made from.
When you visit to see how your tomato plants are growing don't forget to pinch off the suckers that grow inbetween the two branches. They don’t make any fruit and just take energy away from the rest of the plant.
* Let the soil warm up before you mulch to keep the warmth in as tomatoes thrive in a warm environment.
Don't forget to wash hands well with soap and water after handling potting mix, soil or compost.

MORE IDEAS: Fact Sheet about growing tomatoes: Pete's Patch at Gardening Australia


Blowing Bubbles

bubble blowing activities

Bubble blowing is a wonderful activity for all ages, to watch or create, from babies to great grandads and grandmas. We always have a wonderful time of learning and discovery whenever we make up our bubble blowing mixture for outdoor play time.

For avid learners who want to know more about the science of bubbles:
A soap bubble is a thin film of soapy water that encloses air, forming a sphere with an iridescent surface.
When light shines onto a bubble it appears to change colour. The colours seen in a soap bubble are from interference of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of the film. Depending on the thickness of the film, different colours are seen.

RECIPES for bubble mix, ACTIVITIES, SONGS, BOOKS and the SCIENCE OF BUBBLES all at 52 days to explore

I'm forever blowing bubbles...

bubble blowing activities


Shadow Play

On a sunny day watch your shadow and see what it can do.

  • Find a sunny open area to stand in with no trees or big structures around. 
  • Find the sun and turn your back to it.
  • Your shadow should be in front of you.
  • A lot depends on what time of day it is:  

       - if the sun is low in the sky your shadow will be long.
       - if the sun is high in the sky your shadow will be short.


If you are feeling patient, stand very still and see if someone can draw around your shadow.

Shadow Shapes for older children

Shadow puppets at night

Me and my shadow,
Strolling down the avenue,
Me and my shadow,
Not a soul to tell our troubles to . . .

And when it’s twelve o’clock,
We climb the stair,
We never knock,
For nobody’s there . . .

Perry Como

Hand and foot painting

We love hand painting and foot painting outside.

Photographer: Idea go from FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET


Why we need outdoors

Enhancing your outdoor space


Hula Hoops

We found some great hula hoops that are shiny, multi coloured and make a noise when you shake them or spin them or roll them. 
We put out 6 and the children had lots of fun making up things to do with them without any adult input.
Playing with hoops: public domain image


Leaf hunt

Go on a leaf hunt. This is a simple activity but full of learning about observation, nature, the environment and how things work.
If you know the names of the plants that the leaves come from then this is a good place to start. If you know if the tree is Deciduous - a plant that loses its leaves in winter, or Evergreen - a plant that keeps its leaves throughout the year, even better.

Science basics for young children.  a leaf is connected to a trees branch. A leaf helps feed the tree. Most leaves are flat so that they can collect the sunshine, water and nutrients to feed the tree. 

Get this worksheet at

To extend this activity:
  • learn the correct names for some basic leaf shapes
  • learn more about leaves
  • create a collage with your collection of leaves
  • create some land art with your leaves
  • photograph your leaves. Children love to take photos too
  • make a science display about different kinds of leaves
  • create a mobile using string and leaves and sticks
  • organise your leaves into groups by colour, size or shape
  • count your leaves

You might also like to see:
Collect a rainbow
Commune with flowers

Linked up with 1000 Homes of Happiness 

Outdoor gift ideas